Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a condition in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own red blood cells, causing them to disintegrate (hemolyze). This can be a serious, even lethal, condition that requires care from your doctor.
There are many causes of hemolysis, the breaking up of red blood cells. Some are congenital (eg,
sickle cell disease
), some are due to other diseases, and some are caused by drugs, but they all lead to
. The autoimmune hemolytic anemias, of which there are many types, occur when antibodies attack red blood cells.
In some cases of autoimmune hemolysis, medications may attach to red cells, leading to targeting for destruction by the immune system. The most common are penicillin and its relatives, cephalosporins, quinidine, and some anti-inflammatory drugs.
In most cases, however, abnormal immune function leads the body to attack normal red blood cells. Causes of the underlying abnormal immune function include:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing autoimmune hemolytic anemia:
Recent viral infections
Current medications of the types that can cause autoimmune hemolytic anemia
Cancer or leukemia
Collagen-vascular (autoimmune) disease
Family history of hemolytic disease
If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume the cause is due to autoimmune hemolytic anemia. These symptoms may be caused by many other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a